Skip to main content

Full text of "Violations of the Hatti Humayoun : A paper prepared at the request of Sir Philip Currie, British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte"

See other formats




Prepared at the request of Sir Philip Currie, 
British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, 
BY the Evangelical Alliance of 

evangelical alliance OFFICE: 
511 United Charities Building, 
Fourth Avenue and 22d Street, New York City. 

The accompanying document was prepared at the request of Sir 
Philip Currie, British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, by American 
and British residents of Constantinople. 

The Hatti Humayoun, promulgated in 1856, is the Magna Charta 
of the subject races of Turkey. This paper, the statements of which 
are absolutely reliable, constitutes an unimpeachable bill of particulars 
which abundantly sustains the charge that in recent years this charter 
of rights has been habitually violated by the officials of the Ottoman 

Fuad Pasha, who is several times referred to, was the ablest 
and most distinguished statesman Turkey has ever known. On his death 
bed he spent his last hours in writing a message to the Sultan, pre- 
senting the true state of the Empire, and imploring him to undertake 
the needed reforms. 

Turkey's disregard of religious liberty and of the common rights 
of humanity is of interest not only to the European powers charged with 
the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin, but 
also to everyone who recognizes the brotherhood of man. 

Evangelical Alliance for the United States. 



Constantinople February 12, i8qS- 
To H. E. Sir Philip Currie, G.C.B., 
H. B. M's Ambassadort 

Sir : 

In response to your Excellency's request for facts elucidating 
the communication to Lord Kimberley presented by the Council of the 
Evangelical Alliance in London, under date of January 23d, 1895, we 
have the honor to submit the accompanying paper in behalf of the 
Evangelical Alliance. 

In the Hatti Humayoun and the Circular of the Sublime Porte 
of May 15th, 1867, concerning its execution, we have as basis of our 
study the letter of the charter itself, together with an official statement 
of the obligations assumed in it by the Ottoman Government, and of 
the progress made in its execution ten years after its promulgation. 
Comparing with this a mass of well attested facts of the recent internal 
administration of Turkey, we find, respecting the design to remove 
inequalities of civil rights of disabilities of Christians in Turkey based 
on their religious belief, that the Hatti Humayoun has been since 1880 
disregarded : 

(1) . In Sections XII, XV and XXXIV by an increasing exclusion 
of Christians from responsible office under Government. 

(2) . In Sections XXI and XXH by the extensive re-introduction of 
torture and corpora! punishment. 

(3) . In Sections VIII and IX by the gradual return to the use by 
Officials of insulting language concerning Christianity. 

{4). In Section I by the gradual re-subjection of the property of 
Christians to the will of officials and private Muslims, as seen in the 
Eastern provinces of the Empire, where both Armenians and Nestorians 
have been harried and dispossessed of their property, which has been 


handed over to Muslims. This appears to constitute in its steady 
though gradual progress, a reaction of policy which goes as far as 
actual war on Christians in its most extreme results, where Muslims 
have replaced Christians as the inhabitants of the Eastern frontier 

Secondly, in the field of its specific provisions for securing tolera- 
tion and liberty of worship for Christians and freedom for educational 
development, we think that it is made evident that the Hatti Humayoun 
has been practically annulled. 

(5) . In its VII., X., XI. and XII. articles since 1891 by the deter- 
mination to make the enjoyment by Christians of freedom of public 
exercise of the rites of religion depend upon specific authorizations, and 
by declarations such as that of September, 1894, which places the right 
of worship upon the same basis as the favor by which Christians may 
permanently set apart land for church purposes and build churches 
thereon, namely, under limitation of the rule that the authorization 
demanded shall be an authorization from the Sovereign himself in each case. 

(6) . In its XV. article in the progressive limitation of the right 
of education since 1884 by the claim to extinguish Christian schools («) 
for technical deviations of their . teachers from the law as to control of 
methods of education, {fi) for the lack of formal permits, such not 
having been required when the schools were founded, (ir) since 1892 
for arbitrary reasons after consideration of the expediency of the exist- 
ence of each individual school, and (</) since 1894 by the claim that no 
school can exist in the country without having obtained Imperial Firman 
in each case. 

The trend of these measures is further illustrated by a series of 
aggressions Upon the intellectual culture of Christians in administrative 
acts that since 1887 have terrorized possessors of Christian books, have 
deprived Christian teachers of the normal means of culture, have 
extensively broken up the trade in Christian books, that have since 
1893 applied Mohammedan ideals to expositions of Christian doctrine, 
and have even sought to prohibit to Christians knowledge of many 
essentials of their religion and that lawful growth in manhood which 
is its normal fruit. All these harmoniously progressive acts of restric- 
tion being explained and justified by Ottoman officials, on the ground 
that Christian instruction arouses in men a sense of manhood, and this 
being the normal aim and expectation of Christianity, we are unable 

to see in these infringements upon the charter of Christian rights any- 
thing less than a direct war upon the Christian religion itself by the 
Ottoman Empire. 

The paper herewith enclosed gives the facts on which these state- 
ments are based in detail which is, we hope, not unmanageably volumin- 
ous. Our only difficulty has been to select from the mass of facts in 
hand as few as will elucidate the statements of the paper. 

We hope that Your Excellency will accept the assurance that in 
the preparation of this paper we have been controlled by no prejudice of 
hostility to the Ottoman Government, nor by any desire to make an 
indictment against it. Rather have we made these statements as well- 
wishers of the Empire, who seeing what we believe to be a fatal error of 
policy, point out its tendency in the hope that it may not yet be too 
late by a return to first principles to avert its disastrous results. 

We should add that the statements of this paper are the unanim- 
ous expression of the local Committee of the Evangelical Alliance, 
composed of five members of the British and three of the American colony 
in this city. 

On Deviations From the Hatti 

Humayoun of 1856. 

The Hatti Humayoun of 1856 was a charter of liberty and 
equality to the Christians of Turkey. Fuad Pasha, the Minis- 
ter of Foreign Affairs, ten years after the issue of this charter, 
reviewed the progress made in its execution. He gave the 
following just characterization of the condition of Non-Moham- 
medans in Turkey before its issue, and of the aim of the docu- 
ment itself: 

"The subjects of the Sultan were divided into two classes, 
separated one from another by a prejudice apparently invincible ; 
a ruling class represented by the Mohammedans and an inferior 
class, entirely subordinated to the authority of the first and 
represented by the Non-Mohammedan population." (See Fuad 
Pasha's circular of May isth, 1867, found in "Legislation 
Ottomane," Vol. II., p. 24.) The aim of the Hatti Humayoun 
he describes to be the carrying into effect of the principle of 
equality between the Mussulman and the Non-Mussulman popu- 
lations of the Empire. 

Any discussion of the rights now enjoyed by Christians in 
Turkey would be unjust which did not make due acknowledg- 
ment of the great improvements produced under the Hatti 
Humayoun. The organization of the country under the Vilayet 
system, with administrative councils composed of Muslims and 
Non-Muslims; the codes of civil and criminal law; the organiza- 
tion of the judiciary with Non-Muslims by the side of Muslims 
on the bench; the improved condition of the police and the gen- 
darmerie; and the erection of municipal governments for the 
cities and towns, are all fruits of this charter whose value is 
perhaps too often underestimated. 


Yet there are portions of the wide field covered by the Hatti 
Humayoun which cannot be contemplated with satisfaction by 
any well-wisher of the Turkish Empire. The object of this 
paper is to point out some deviations in practice from the 
requirements of this document which have become prominent 
since the Russian war of 1878. In speaking of these things we 
do so without the right to speak for the Christians of Turkey in 
general, with the consciousness that some classes of these Chris- 
tians might consider us as meddlers for venturing to speak at 
♦ all, and with the sole purpose of pointing out directions in which 
we think the full execution of the Hatti Humayoun, as explained 
by Turkish statesmen of the last generation, might do much, if 
not undertaken too late, to calm existing discontent throughout 
the country. If in any part of this paper our illustrative acts 
are drawn from the experience of the Protestants of Turkey, 
this is due to our closer knowledge of our own co-religionists. 
Far be it from us to desire to imply that they have any special 
claims for attention not belonging to all the Christians of 
Turkey. At the same time we believe that, after deducting 
accidents due to the comparative smallness of the Protestant 
body in Turkey, our remarks will apply in general to all Chris- 
tians in the Empire, and especially in its Asiatic Provinces. 


Since 1880 we have observed a tendency to disregard several 
principles and provisions of the Hatti Humayoun which were 
designed in a general way to prevent religious belief from 
bringing civil inequality or disability upon the followers of any 

I. Fuad Pasha, in his circular above referred to, pointed out 
in 1867 that "the principle of admissability of the subjects of 
the Sultan without distinction of religion to all public employ- 
ments . . . has been put in practice. " But since the year 
1881, when the Christians in high administrative office were 
dismissed from several Asiatic Provinces, the tendency has been 
increasingly marked to displace Christians by Muslims in 


responsible posts in every department of government in Asiatic 
Turkey. At Constantinople, also, .in that department of the 
Council of State to which the administration of the Interior 
especially belongs, the whole membership, with one exception, 
is Mohammedan. Yet measures affecting the vital interests of 
the Christian populations are there taken every day. This 
single Christian member of the Interior section of the Council 
of State formerly occupied an important post in the foreign 
office now held by a Muslim. The High Council of the Ministry 
of Public Instruction, which is especially directed by the Hatti 
Humayoun to be a mixed council, contains but one Non-Muslim 
member, although it decides upon the interests of all the Chris- 
tian schools in the country. The Superior Council of Censorship 
at the same Ministry has also an insignificant proportion of 
Non-Mussulman members. Although the greatest number of 
Christian books published in Turkey are brought out by Pro- 
testant publishing houses, and although the proportion of read- 
ers of books is far greater in the Protestant community than in 
any other, there is no Protestant on this council (nor in fact on 
any high council or other responsible position under the Gov- 
ernment). Yet it is this overwhelmingly Mohammedan body 
which modifies or prohibits the religious books which the Chris- 
tians of Turkey desire to publish or to use for their own people. 
This was not the case twenty years ago, and it is in direct 
opposition to the Hatti Humayoun. (Sections XII., XV., XXXIV.). 

In this connection, another reform referred to with pride 
by Fuad Pasha as an important gain to the Non-Muslims of 
Turkey under the Hatti Humayoun, was the suppression of the 
ancient usage of uniting in the police agents the functions of 
collectors of taxes as well as those of agents of the police. This 
confusion gave rise to very grave abuses. Little by little this 
usage has been restored, and complaints of abuses due to the 
practice have abounded since 1889. Finally, in the summer of 
1894, an Imperial edict set aside the work of the Hatti Huma- 
youn in this regard by appointing the police throughout the 
country to be tax-collecting agents, with a system of rewards to 
officers who succeed best in collecting money. 

2. Another result claimed to have been secured by the Hatti 


Humayoun is that " torture and corporal punishment, Other 
than that laid down by the penal code, are entirely unknown in 
Turkey." Yet information which has come into our hands 
incidentally from many different sources respecting the Angora 
trials of 1893 and the Vozgat trials of 1894, make it impossible 
to deny that torture of the most inhuman character was exten- 
sively used in order to force men to testify according to the 
order of the officials. One such attempt to obtain support to a 
statement prepared beforehand, but without the least founda- 
tion, was the subject of remonstrance by the U. S. Legation to 
the Sublime Porte in 1893. In this case an Armenian at Mar- 
sovan was flogged until his back was raw flesh to force him to 
sign a declaration that certain Americans were plotting with 
Armenian insurrectionists. 

Another such case, which has just come to our knowledge, is 
that of an Armenian blacksmith who was brought to a well- 
known physician residing in the Province of Angora. The man 
was in an idiotic condition, with numerous wounds over his 
body and a recently healed wound five inches in length upon his 
abdomen. He frequently cried out, "It has burned to my 
soul." He was brought to the doctor in hopes of aid to restore 
his reason, which had only recently become deranged. His 
friends sought advice, paid the fee, and went away; and it was 
only by diligent questioning that the physician learned their 
Story of the cause of the man's condition. In November, 1894, 
he had been arrested on the testimony of a spy, and he had been 
made insane by the torture inflicted on him in prison in order to 
force him to confess the crime with which he was charged. The 
wound on his abdomen was self-inflicted, he having attempted 
to disembowel himself at the end of two months of suffering. 
That there was no real evidence against this man may be 
deemed to be proved by the fact that he was released by the 
authorities about the middle of January, 1895. 

3. Another point of reform referred to by Fuad Pasha as 
accomplished by the Hatti Humayoun, is "the measures taken 
to prohibit the use of every injurious epithet drawn from differ- 
ences of race and religion." 

But the ground gained in this respect under the Hattl 


Humayoun has been more than lost during the last five years. 
Throughout Asiatic Turkey, both officers of Government and 
private individuals among the Mohammedans abuse the Chris- 
tians continually by calling them "misbelievers," and by 
remarks concerning their religion, which if used by Christians 
concerning Islamism, would bring instant and severe punish- 
ment upon the offender. Among prominent instances of this 
abuse may be mentioned the action of the president of the 
special court held for the trial of Armenians at Yozgat in the 
summer of 1894, who habitually and grossly abused in this way 
Christians brought before him. Also we may mention the 
action of Saad ed Din Pasha, the present military Governor of 
Nicomedia, who, on the 30th of December, 1894, ordered a lead- 
ing Christian merchant of that place to open his shop for bus- 
iness on Sunday. On receiving answer that he could not open 
his shop because his religion required him to refrain from 
trade on Sunday, this officer.publicly and abominably reviled a 
religion which teaches men such things. He then struck the 
merchant in the face and tried by fierce threats to compel him 
" to obey the orders of an officer of the Sultan." 

At a village in the province of Erzroum, during the summer 
of 1894, some soldiers demanded from the people of the village 
on a Sunday, sacks to carry grain. It happened that they came 
while the people were attending divine service in the Protestant 
church. They were requested to wait until the close of the 
service, when the sacks would be furnished. But they began to 
curse the religion of these people, and entered the church, 
bawling out for the pastor to stop the service, and to collect 
the sacks at once. They even drew their swords upon the men 
near the door who sought to quiet this interruption of the 

In February, 1893, again, an officer of the Protestant com- 
munity, in the town of Marsovan, had occasion to go to the 
police headquarters for a document. While he was there, an 
officer of the police, without provocation, poured forth a torrent 
of unspeakably vile abuse of him and of the most sacred things 
of his religion. Of sixteen officers and privates of the police 
who were present, not one made remonstrance against this out- 


rage, which the victim was forced to endure in silence, because 
of his knowledge that its object was to provoke him to some act 
that would serve as ground for charging him with resisting an 
officer while on duty. 

Twenty years ago either of these cases would have been 
punished as a violation of the rights conferred by the Hatti Huma- 
youn. But in the latter case, when the question was raised of 
making complaint against the police officer, a leading Protes- 
tant, long in intimate relations with Government officials, 
declared that the practice of reviling the Christian religion is so 
universal and so constant in official circles that it was useless to 
complain of it. 

Another of the points specially covered by the Hatti Huma- 
youn is security of property. Before 1856, to quote the words 
of Fuad Pasha, "the liberty, the honor and the property of 
Christians were exposed to the dangers and abuses of a tradi- 
tional social organization in whicb even the execution of the 
laws was subordinated to the sovereign will of the civil and 
ecclesiastical depositaries of authority." 

After the issue of that charter progress was made in repress- 
ing robbery and outrage in the Eastern provinces of the Empire. 
But since 1890 there has been a distinct change. " Harrying" 
is the only word which properly expresses the treatment of the 
Armenian Christian peasants since 1890 in the districts of Moush 
and Bitlis in the province of Bitlis, and of Khnous Boulanyk and 
Passin in the province of Erzroum, and of the Nestorian Chris- 
tians in the district of Jezire in the province of Diarbekir and in 
the district of Hikkiari in the province of Van. The "sovereign 
will" of the smaller Government officials has been to the people 
only less ruinous than the open rapine of the Kourds. In 1892 
the Kourds were given a quasi military character by being 
enrolled as auxiliary cavalry of the Hamidieh corps. But they 
were left without control, being officered by their own chiefs, 
while at the same time, since they were clothed with a sort of 
official character, it became a crime against the State to resist 
them. Numbers of petitions imploring the intervention of the 
Sultan in protection of the people of that region were sent to 
Constantinople. But in 1893 orders were sent from this city 


forbidding the transmission of any more petitions against the 
Hamidieh regiments. The people thus harrassed fled from the 
country in large numbers, and the famine of 1893-94, which 
Smote the provinces of Erzroum and Bitlis, appears to have been 
largely due to the depredations of the Kourds upon the Chris- 
tian peasantry. 

In the autumn of 1894 a notice published at Constantinople 
by the Government announced the settlenjent of as many as 
3,000 Kourds and Circassian immigrants in the "vacant" vil- 
lages of the district of Passin. The same process of handing 
over to Muslims the houses and lands of Christians who had 
been killed or driven off in this way was taking place in Decem- 
ber, 1894, in the region of Bashkala in the province of Van. 

The toleration of these outrages is simply a restoration of 
the regime of the period before the issue of the Hatti Humayoun. 
For we have yet to learn of any extended or serious attempt by 
Government to punish aggressions upon the lives and property 
of its Christian subjects in these important provinces. Had the 
plan been officially adopted, to wage an indirect war upon the 
Christians by crushing them, by reducing them to poverty, and 
by clearing them off from the face of the ground in order to 
replace them by a Mohammedan population, the means could 
not have been more effectually chosen, nor the object more 
steadily pursued. 


5. In respect to the public exercise of the rites of religion 
by Christians, the Hatti Humayoun made important changes, 
putting Christians on a level with Mohammedans in recognized 
liberty to worship. Before 1856 Christians had been allowed 
by favor only to worship in places other than churches set apart 
by Imperial Firman. It will be remembered that the right of 
Europeans in Turkey to " read the Testament " in their abodes * 
was once deemed a matter for stipulation in treaties. By the 
Hatti Humayoun, while the construction of churches was 
expressly reserved, as a favor, for authorization by Imperial 
Firman, liberty of worship was assured to all as a right. Fuad 


Pasha referred to this perfect liberty of public worship with 
just satisfaction. This liberty continued to be enjoyed by 
Christians throughout the country during the thirty-five years 
from 1856 to 1891. In 1891 the Sublime Porte questioned for 
the first time officially the right of Christians to meet for wor- 
ship in their private houses. In January, 1892, an Imperial 
edict was issued which confuses the case of worship, regulating 
which there is no law, with that of schools, the regulation of 
which is reserved by law, and which decrees the suppression of 
worship and schools not formally authorized, and found to be 
without permits after a stipulated delay. 

On objection being made to this decree, the reply was made 
by the Sublime Porte that the measure was a technical bringing 
under regular forms of existing places of worship, and that per- 
mits would be issued promptly on application. In fact, permits 
by the local authorities were issued to the larger part of such 
applications for authorization to continue worship in private 
houses. But in 1894 the question having come up again 
through the suppression of Protestant worship in some places in 
Asiatic Turkey, the Sublime Porte declared that the edict in ques- 
tion applies to the holding of worship under the rules which have 
always been applied to the construction of churches, namely, 
the rule which requires specific authorization by Imperial Fir- 
man. Thus the Sublime Porte has formally announced its 
return to the regime in vogue before the Hatti Humayoun was 
issued. As a Turkish provincial official has explained the atti- 
tude of the Government, " Every place where a Christian says 
his prayers is reckoned as a church, and a church cannot exist 
without an Imperial Firman." At this moment congregations 
of from 150 to- 300 Protestants are prohibited from worship in 
places which have been recognized as their meeting houses dur- 
ing from ten to twenty years, at Fatza in the province of 
Trebizond, Inetzig and Aghn in the province of Harpoot, Kir 
* Shehir in the province of Angora, and Osmaniye in the province 
of Adana, to say nothing of the case of congregations of Sidon 
and of Gedik Pasha in Constantinople where pressing petitions 
for Imperial Firman to build churches have been disregarded 
by the Imperial Government for many years. 


6. The Hatti Humayoun declared in reference to the schools 
of Christians, that the various communities are authorized to 
open schools. Anyone reading this article in the original Turk- 
ish will see at a glance that it does not contemplate the submis- 
sion to the Turkish authorities of any question of the expediency 
or of the right to open schools. And Fuad Pasha 111 his circular 
says: "In regard to schools created and directed by the com- 
munities, the most absolute liberty is left to them by the Im- 
perial Government, which never intervenes Save to prevent, in 
case of necessity, the confiding of the direction of these schools 
to persons whose principles are notoriously hostile to the author- 
ity of the Imperial Government or contrary to public order." 

This liberty was fully enjoyed by the various Christian com- 
munities during the twenty-eight years from 1856 to 1884. But 
in Syria in 1882 and generally in 1884, the Government suddenly 
commenced to suppress Christian schools on the ground of 
"lack of conformity to the school law of 1889." On examina- 
tion it was found that in the centre of this law, preceded and 
followed by matter relating solely to the organisation of a Gov- 
ernmental system of schools, there was a single paragraph 
touching schools not under Government patronage. This para- 
graph says that permits for "private schools " are granted on 
submission of the course of study, the books used, and the di- 
plomas of the teachers to the approval of the local authorities. 
This paragraph had been held in abeyance for fifteen years, and 
was absolutely unknown to Christians until some thirty schools 
were closed in Syria in 1882 for disobedience to it. 

On the general application of this paragraph to the Christian 
schools of the Empire in 1884, negotiations took place, which 
led in 1886 to a declaration by the Minister of Public Instruction 
that existing Christian schools' would not be molested on sub- 
mission to control in the three points mentioned. The schools 
generally throughout the country submitted to the control. But 
the authorities uniformly said that they had no orders to give 
permits to any but new schools. Three years later, some 
schools, although recognized in this way, were closed for lack of 
permits. Fresh negotiations followed, and the declaration oif 
the Minister of Public Instruction was confirmed by Veairial 


order in 1889. Nevertheless, in 1892, the edict referred to in 
the last section was issued, which ordered the closure of all the 
schools and places of worship which did not obtain formal per- 
mits within a specified time, it being left to the will of the 
officials to issue or to refuse the permits requested. The per- 
mits were issued in the majority of cases, and by the local 
authorities, for existing schools. But in 1893 it began to be 
claimed that the permits required by the edict were not those 
issued by the Department of Public Instruction, but an Imperial 
Firman. (At Harpoot the local authorities declared that the 
permit was no longer valid and must be exchanged for an Im- 
perial Firman, application for which received no attention. At 
other places, as Bitlis and Nicomedia, the local authorities asked 
to have the permits of some schools returned for comparison 
with the registry, and then, having got possession of them, de- 
clared that the school must obtain an Imperial Firman or close 
its doors.) And in 1894 the claim that a school cannot exist 
without an Imperial Firman was officially adopted by the Sub- 
lime Porte as stated in the last section in referring to the case of 
worship. Meanwhile a series of stringent orders have been is- 
sued from the Porte, laying heavy penalties upon officials who 
neglect to close schools which are without permits; commanding 
that teachers refrain from having addresses made to the scholars 
or from having essays read by scholars at public school festivals 
unless the addresses or the essays are first submitted to the ap- 
proval of the authorities; directing that the repair of private 
houses occupied by authorized Christian schools be prevented 
unless authorized by order from Constantinople; and requiring 
the prohibition of purchases of houses or building lots by Eng- 
lish, American and French subjects (the most of foreign schools 
in Turkey belonging to these nationalities) unless in each case a 
bond is obtained from the purchaser promising that the build- 
ings shall be razed to the ground should worship or schools be 
at any time established in them. By such means the provincial 
authorities have been filled with the idea that the Ottoman Gov- 
ernment is hostile to the educational institutions of Christians. 
This idea they exhibit in their language and general bearing 
toward such educational institutions. For instance, an Imperial 

decree issued in 1894, requires all Christian schools to give 
serious instruction in the Turkish language. Immediately the 
local officials of the province of Damascus notified their village 
Christians that their schools will be closed if they do not at once 
provide instruction in the Turkish language. But Turkish is 
not knovfc'n at all in that Arabic-speaking region, and it is 
entirely beyond the ability of a village community to import 
teachers of language from other provinces. In the province of 
Bitlis, on the issue of this decree, the schools of the Armenians 
were instantly prohibited from teaching sciences of any kind 
unless they would teach them in the Turkish language. And 
the schools were actually forced to cease giving lessons, except 
in reading and writing, because neither teachers nor scholars 
know the Turkish language. 

One further instance of the restrictions recently placed upon 
the Christian schools in Turkey, is a law issued in 1892 organiz- 
ing an Imperial civil service school. In this law, quite incident- 
ally as it were, occurs a single phrase by which Government 
Bureaus are prohibited from giving employment to persons who 
are graduates of other than Government schools. Leaving out 
of the question the fact that this hampers by a new condition 
that admissability of Christians to Government employ which is 
guaranteed by the Hatti Humayoun, we point solely to its 
effect upon the higher educational institutions of the Christians; 
for there are none except Christian schools in the country of a 
grade similar to that of the higher Government schools. Young 
men who wish to enter the Government service, are by this law 
notified that they must not patronize the Christian colleges to 
which they would naturally look for their education. So far as 
this law has the effect to deter young men from entering these 
colleges, it is a direct attack upon the very existence of the 
higher educational institutions of the Christians. 

7. This review of the attitude of the Ottoman Government 
toward its obligations under the Hatti Humayoun of 1856, 
would be incomplete, and even in some degree unintelligible, 
without notice of recent administrative measures affecting the 
whole vast subject of religious, moral and intellectual culture 
among the Christian subjects of the Sultan. 


The censorship of the press and of books introduced from 
abroad, nominally and legitimately relates to the suppression of 
what is politically and morally bad. But an extension has been 
recently given to this admitted principle, which makes this 
censorship embrace the essentials of all culture among Chris- 
tians. Three different laws regulating the publication and sale 
of books in Turkey have been issued in twenty years, each one 
more stringent than its predecessor. The last law, issued in 
January, 1895, gives a list of prohibited subjects so broad that 
under it officials may exclude, if they desire, all Christian litera- 
ture. It requires censors to reject a book if they find in it a 
single sentence which appears to them of doubtful meaning, and 
it fixes severe penalties upon the importation, sale, distribution 
or even the transportation of any book which has not received 
the approval of the censors, applying these penalties not only to 
the case of dealers in books,, but to private owners of books. 
When it is added that the censor who examines books imported 
from abroad has to give a written declaration that he accepts 
responsibility for the consequences of authorizing a given book, 
and that, therefore, he rarely dares to commit himself by certi- 
fying in writing that he has passed a book with approval, the 
possibilities of this law become apparent. The case has arisen 
during 1893 and 1894 again and again, where Christians have 
been severely punished for being in possession of technically 
unauthorized books. In one case, in a village of Moush in the 
province of Bitlis,, a man was punished in 1893 for owning a 
Bible published before the time when the official authorization 
was ordered to be printed upon the title page of every book. It 
was technically an "unauthorized" book,, although shown to be 
identical with "^authorized " Biibles. 

8. It has become a usual thing for travelers to be stripped of 
their books at any guard station in the interior of Turkey. The 
fact of authorization printed on the title page in Turkish makes 
no difference. The book must be sent to the headquarters of 
the province,, perhaps a hundred miles away, for examination. 
The owner of the book is happy if he is not detained under 
arrest until the result of the examination is made known. Of 
course he surrenders his books rather than wait several days for 


the examination to be made. In fact the suspicion exhibited 
toward Christians who possess books; the frequency with which 
the books are seized for re-examination and with which they 
are lost by the examiners ; the often parodied reports of their 
contents made by ignorant or designing examiners, and the 
impossibility of redress when a provincial censor differs in 
opinion from the Department at Constantinople, and orders the 
confiscation of authorized books, has at last made the Christians 
of Asiatic Turkey almost as terrified at sight of a book as are the 
officials who are set over them. So complete is the destruction 
of Christian books in some districts through these causes, that 
the Christian children now growing up in those districts bid 
fair to be as ignorant as were their forefathers. 

9. The same causes operate to destroy the book trade. To 
avoid increasing beyond measure the bulk of this paper, refer- 
ence is made for examples of such unlawful interferences with 
the book trade, to the printed "Appeal in Behalf of Religious 
Work." This " Appeal " was issued in 1891 by the representa- 
tives of six British and American Bible and Missionary Societies 
convened at Constantinople. To bring down to date the list 
there found, in illustration o^f the statements of this and the 
preceding section of this paper, would make a document of 
formidable dimensions. 

10. For light upon the principle which underlies much of this 
hostility toward the circulation of Christian books among the 
Christians of Turkey, we must turn to the incidents of the 
censorship as exercised upon works imported from abroad or in 
the process of publication within the Empire. The censorship 
of the press at Constantinople is divided into two sections: that 
of the newspaper press, which depends directly upon the Minis- 
try of the Interior, and that of the book press, which is under 
the council of censorship at the Ministry of Public Instruction. 
Under the new press law this council is placed also under the 
control of the Ministry of the Interior. The superior censors of 
Christian books are all Muslims. The subordinate readers have 
hitherto been Christians, but latterly Muslims have been 
assigned to this work also, to revise the recommendations of 
the Christian readers. Only the censorship applied to the 


religious and educational works of Christians relates to the pur- 
pose of this paper. 

The censorship of foreign religious and literary works is so 
stringent as to deprive the Christians in Turkey of the ordinary 
means of keeping in touch with the advancement of knowledge 
among his co-religionists abroad. Such classics of English 
literature, for instance, as Shakespeare, Byron, Milton, Scott, 
are refused authorization. So with the higher literature of any 
language. No standard History, no Encyclopedia, no treatise 
on metaphysics of any extended character, no full and extended 
theology or commentary on the Bible, can pass the censorship 
for introduction into the interior of Turkey. And if any minis- 
ter or teacher, anxious to fill well his place, ventures to smuggle 
such books through or to possess the rudiments of a library, he 
is certain sooner or later to fall under the notice of the paid spy, 
and then must submit to the condemnation for the crime which 
the authorities choose to consider to be "incited " by the his- 
tory or theological work concerned. The effect of the refusal to 
admit the standard works of Christendom, in keeping teachers 
of Christian schools in Turkey down to the level of the primary 
school, need not be enlarged upon. 

The censorship of books published within the Empire is still 
more rigorous, no longer professing to confine itself to politics 
or to polemics in religion, but taking hold of and mutilating 
books designed for the religious instruction and encouragement 
of Christians. It is conceivable that here Mohammedan censors 
might defend their right to prohibit, as they do, the publication 
in Turkish, where Muslims might see them, of the noble works 
which have been the inspiration and the comfort of Christians in 
all ages. But it is not conceivable that justification can be 
found in the case of interference with the publication of such 
books, printed, not in the Arabic letters that Muslims use, but 
in the Christian alphabets which no Mohammedan can read. 
Yet the Christian, anxious to aid his fellow Christians to lead 
noble and useful lives, may not publish articles in his own 
religious newpapers, which contain, for instance, the quotation 
of texts of Scripture. These are commonly prohibited either on 
the plea that the texts are not suitable for the common people, 


or because they contain words which are forbidden, and cannot 
be altered by the publisher because they are the words of the 
Bible. For instance, a text which alludes to rising from the 
dead may not be used because the verb "to rise " in some other 
context might mean something else. Any passage from the 
Bible is prohibited which contains any of the following words : 
Persecution, courage, liberty, strength, rights, union, equality, 
star (in astronomy one has to use the word "luminary" instead) 
king, palace, arms, bloodshed, tyranny, hero, etc., etc. In fact 
these words are prohibited in religious articles in any context 
whatever. A Christian religious newspaper may not place 
before its readers a hymn or other poetry, and from the hymn 
books used in Christian worship many of the grand old hymns 
of the Church have been expunged, and the suppression sus- 
tained after appeal to the highest authority of the Porte. A 
Christian writer addressing Christians who know only Turkish, 
in the Turkish language, is constantly forbidden to use words of 
purely religious signification which are the words used in the 
Bible and the only ones known to the people to express a given 
idea, because the idea is held by the censor to belong to 
Mohammedanism alone. Of such are "the guiding grace of 
God;" forbidden, because M'Uslims do not admit that Christians 
can have this grace. "Good news," the literal translation used 
in the Bible of the Greek word " Evangelion," commonly ren- 
dered in English as the Gospel. The use of this word is pro- 
hibited, because Muslims do not admit that the Gospel of Jesus 
Christ is "good news." "Apostle" (resoul), a word found in 
everyday Turkish law in its sense of messenger. It is prohibited 
in the Christian newspaper press, because it implies that the 
Apostles of Jesus Christ were sent of God, which Muslims 
deny. The same prohibition, for Mohammedan religious rea- 
sons, lies upon the use, in Christian religious books or religious 
newspapers, of references to our Saviour as " the Saviour of the 
world " or to his shedding his blood for the cleansing from sin. 

II. But aside from these interferences, the censors refuse to 
allow certain subjects of religious discourse to be presented to 
Christians. Thus the virtues of manliness, of moral courage, or 
resignation under affliction, of hope in God under adversity, are 


all subjects concerning which Christian religious books may not 
speak to Christians. The same is true of exhortations to benev- 
olence, of practical suggestions to Christians as to means of 
copying Jesus Christ in doing good to others, of suggestions of 
Christian evangelistic work among the ignorant and degraded 
of the Christian communities, and of reference to Christian mis- 
sions and their operations in other parts of the world. 

12. Besides all this, Protestant ministers are molested in 
their services when they preach upon these normal themes of 
their religion. The Protestant pastor of Yozgat was expelled 
from the plaee for no other offence. The Protestant pastor at 
Sungarlu was compelled to leave that town for preaching on the 
resurrection from the dead. The Protestant pastor from Gem- 
erak is undergoing imprisonment in the fortress of St. Jean 
d 'Acre for no other offence, to judge from the evidence produced 
at his trial. The Protestant pastor at Chakmak, near Cesare, 
has just been thrown into prison ; and those who know his law- 
abiding and sterling character, assure us that his efforts to lead 
his flock into closer adherence to Bible Christianity are his only 
crime. Protestant pastors everywhere declare that they are 
compelled, in choosing texts from the Bible, and in framing 
their exhortations upon them, to hesitate, and paraphrase, and 
weigh words, through fear that if they speak of the consolations 
of Christianity, they will be charged with encouraging discon- 
tent ; if they urge resistance to sin, they will be condemned for 
suggesting resistance to the Turkish Government; or if they 
speak of the demand of Christianity for pure and noble charac- 
ter, they will be charged with inciting men to unlawful aspira- 
tions. On complaint being made of such restrictions upon thfe 
legitimate instruction of Christians, officials in high position 
have answered that while provincial Governors are constantly 
sending extracts from the Bible to prove the necessity of sup- 
pressing that book. Christians should be grateful for the privilege 
of being allowed to have the Bible, instead of complaining at 
being restricted in making or publishing comments upon it. Yet 
when we have removed from the instruction of Christians all ref- 
erence to the requirements of Christianity for practical benevo- 
lent living and to its abundance of assurances of the Divine aid 


in adversity and of the rewards of resignation, and to the proofs 
of its power which are found in the experiences of the Church 
universal in different parts of the world, we have done much to 
prevent Christians from knowing the worth or experiencing 
the effects of their own religion in their own hearts. 

13. It is often said that these restrictions upon the rights of 
individuals in Turkey are not peculiar to Non-Mussulman sub- 
jects of the Sultan, and that, therefore, these restrictions are 
unfairly made a cause of special complaint. But this is due to a 
superficial view of the case. Many of the deviations from the 
Hatti Humayoun appear to be of general application because 
Christians are not specifically named in the decrees by which 
innovations are introduced. The decrees none the less burden 
Christians alone, or at best chiefly; being directed against rights 
which Muslims do not seek or need to have protected because 
the laws of the country are framed from a Mussulman stand- 
point and are committed for execution to Mussulmans. One 
illustration will suffice. In 1886, a book called the Mudafaa, 
and in 1892 another called Resalei hamidie were published at Con- 
stantinople. Both of these books were full of the most scur- 
rilous attacks on Christianity and of the most contemptuous 
epithets applied to those who profess that religion. The 
authors of those works were decorated by H. I. M. the Sultan, 
and many efforts were made to give the books the widest possi- 
ble circulation. Since that time, especially in 1892 and 1893, 
the Turkish newspapers of the capital have contained article 
after article which have poured opprobrium upon the Christian 
religion. These articles have been published with the approval 
of a censorship that by law must decide beforehand whether an 
article may be published. But at the same time Christians have 
been rigorously prohibited from making in Turkish any answer 
to statements maliciously false concerning Christianity by which 
these works have sought to excite the contempt and hatred of 
the Mohammedan populace toward their Christian neighbors. 
It is the religious prejudice rather than the violation of law 
which strikes the close observer of these matters. But at all 
events, the Hatti Humayoun was accepted at the Congress of 
Paris in 1856 as providing reasonably for the quieting of the 


Christian populations of the Empire, because it guaranteed to 
Non-Mussulmans certain rights. The execution of these 
guarantees was not conditioned. The rights guaranteed to 
Non-Mussulmans might or might not be such as Mussulmans 
would desire or appreciate, but they were such as are essential 
to Christians, such as are suggested to Christians by their 
religion, and such as cause ferment and unrest among Chris- 
tians when denied to theni. This being the case, the restriction 
of these rights can no more be condoned than their suppression 
before the issue of the Hatti Humayoun could be excused by 
proving that the Muslim subjects of the Sultan are also denied 
these rights. 

14. To review the case, we find an increasing stringency in 
Turkey directed against Christian education, an increasing 
tendency to hinder Christian worship, an increasing hostility to 
the use of books by the Christians of Turkey, which results in 
actually crippling the intellectual powers of men who would 
carry their culture along the lines of the best thought of Chris- 
tendom. We find an increasing vigilance to prevent Christians 
from exercising the injunctions of their religion in practical 
benevolence and beneficence among their own people. And in 
these later years we find this tendency reaching a climax of 
intensity in . the rough hands laid upon the exposition of the 
Christian faith in a way to prevent Christians from learning the 
full value of their religion and to prevent the Christian religion 
from producing its full fruit among its followers. In answer to 
inquiry as to the meaning of this rapid trend of different lines 
of policy converging to one point, we are told that the trouble 
is that Christianity tends to make men grow into a better man- 
hood. This statement is made in various forms of paraphrase 
by officials of all grades from Bagdad to the Bosphorus, and in 
answer to all objections, to the closing of schools, to the sup- 
pression of worship, to the restrictions put upon the use of 
books, to the elision of words and subjects from manuscripts in 
the press, and to the silencing of Christian ministers. To this 
declaration we make answer that the deliberate purpose of the 
founder of Christianity and of the religion which He taught is 
the purpose to take the debased and ignorant, and to make 


them men, self-controlled, honest and useful. We make 
answer that the purpose to elevate man is not a disloyal or 
seditious purpose; and we make answer that any far-reaching 
scheme to restrain Christianity from accomplishing its full fruit 
in purifying and quickening the lives of its followers, is war 
upon the Christian religion itself. 

In preparing this paper we have, perhaps, exceeded the limits 
contemplated by the request for facts which led to its composi- 
tion. But we would add one more point. This is that we are 
actuated by no spirit of hostility to the Ottoman Government. 
We are actuated rather by the belief that in inviting attention 
to the trend of this part of the present Turkish policy, we are 
rendering the truest service to the Ottoman Empire. We would 
not belittle the exigencies of a time when there is treason abroad 
of which the evidence may escape the eye of even the most 
practised of disinterested observers. It has been our wish to 
introduce no facts into this discussion which grow legitimately 
out of present political disturbances in Turkey. Our confidence 
of success in avoiding facts which have no real connection with 
the subjects under discussion in this paper, is fortified by the 
conviction that the importance of really seditious movements 
now present among the Christians of Asiatic Turkey, has been 
enormously exaggerated. This unhappy exaggeration, so far 
as the misunderstanding is honest, we deem to have arisen from 
the inability of Mohammedan officials to distinguish between, 
on the one hand the legitimate aspirations of a loyal Christian 
people for a better manhood, which it is the real interest of 
Turkey to encourage, and on the other hand the seditious 
schemes of a comparatively few hot heads, which it is the right 
and the duty of the officers of H. I. M. the Sultan, to suppress. 

Whatever the reasons that have led to the annulment or dis- 
regard of so important parts of the Hatti Humayoun, the 
reasons of interest to the Ottoman State exist to-day for its full 
enforcement, which existed at the close of the Crimean war; 
and it is a return to the letter of that document which we would 
urge with all the force in our power. 

Constantinople, February 12th, i8gj.